On the onset, 2021 seemed to be one other unusual yr, one among unrelenting Israeli occupation and continued Palestinian distress. Whereas a lot of that remained true, the dynamics of the Israeli occupation of Palestine had been challenged by an unprecedented sense of widespread unity amongst Palestinians, not solely within the occupied East Jerusalem, the West Financial institution and Gaza, however amongst Palestinian communities in historic Palestine as properly.
A prevailing sense of cautious hope has lastly changed the prevalent sense of despair felt in earlier years. With that, a sense of renewal and willingness to embrace new political concepts has been registered all through Palestine. For instance, in response to a poll performed by the Jerusalem Media and Communication Centre (JMCC) and revealed on 22 November, there are extra West Financial institution Palestinians who assist the one-state resolution than those that nonetheless assist the virtually defunct two-state resolution, which dominated Palestinian considering for many years.
Pandemic Takes a Toll
The yr, nevertheless, started with a give attention to one thing else completely: the Covid-19 pandemic. Other than ravaging besieged and occupied Palestinians, particularly within the Gaza Strip, the pandemic started spreading amongst Palestinian prisoners.
In February, the Palestinian Authority, together with worldwide human rights teams and organisations, criticised Israel for blocking entry to Covid-19 vaccines to the besieged Gaza Strip. The Sputnik 5 vaccines had been donated by Russia, the primary nation to contribute to preventing the pandemic in Palestine. Ultimately, Palestinian communities slowly accessed vaccines arriving from the COVAX program. Nevertheless, the pandemic continued to ravage occupied Palestine, particularly because the Israeli occupation authorities continued to dam Palestinian preventative measures and to dismantle makeshift Covid-19 amenities within the occupied territories. According to the web site Worldometer, 4,555 Palestinians died because of Covid-19, whereas 432,602 had been examined optimistic for the lethal pandemic.
As occurred within the earlier yr, Israel’s political disaster shortly dominated the headlines, as the ability battle between the then Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, and his rivals continued, resulting in Israel’s fourth elections inside two years. The elections in March have lastly modified the Israeli political panorama, because of a wierd authorities coalition cobbled up by Israel’s new Prime Minister, Naftali Bennett, on 13 June. The coalition included Arab politician, Mansour Abbas, whose political occasion proved instrumental within the forming of the federal government.
Whereas Netanyahu and his Likud occasion shortly retreated to the opposition, ending a reign spanning over 12 years, Palestinians anticipated their very own elections, which had been announced by PA President Mahmoud Abbas on 15 January.
The PA parliamentary and presidential elections had been scheduled for 22 Could and 31 July, respectively. The 2 rounds of voting had been meant to be adopted by a political association that may finish Palestinian political disunity by guaranteeing equal illustration for all Palestinian political teams, together with Hamas and the Islamic Jihad, in a revitalised Palestine Liberation Group (PLO).
Sadly, none of this has transpired. Regardless of optimistic Palestinian unity talks in Cairo over the course of a number of weeks, Abbas cancelled the scheduled elections, below the pretext that his resolution was made in protest of Israel’s refusal to permit Palestinian voters in East Jerusalem to take part.
In alternate for blocking Palestinian efforts at guaranteeing a semblance of democracy, even below Israeli occupation, Abbas was allowed to return to Washington’s listing of allies. Certainly, the US resumed its monetary help to Palestinians in April, promising to re-open the PLO workplace in Washington, which was shut down by the Trump Administration and likewise pledging to re-open its personal consulate in Jerusalem, which was additionally closed by Trump in September 2018.
Regardless of these gestures, which served to validate the PA once more, after 4 years of full marginalisation by the US, the brand new Biden Administration supplied neither a roadmap for a renewed peace course of nor pressured Israel to finish its occupation or to decelerate the tempo of unlawful settlement growth in occupied Palestine. In reality, the speed of Israel’s settlement development has grown exponentially in 2021, with the announcement of Israel’s plan to approve hundreds of latest Israeli housing models within the West Financial institution, in October.
From Sheikh Jarrah to Gaza
Israel’s provocative actions would have gone unnoticed by the worldwide neighborhood if it weren’t for the Palestinian individuals who took a collective stance, utilizing all types of resistance, from Sheikh Jarrah, in East Jerusalem, to Gaza. The entire episode, which finally led to an Israeli warfare on Gaza in Could, started with a routine Israeli try at ethnically cleansing Palestinians from a number of East Jerusalem neighbourhoods, together with Sheikh Jarrah and Silwan. Palestinian Jerusalemites, nevertheless, started organising in opposition to an Israeli court docket order to evict them from their properties, to be then taken over by Israeli Jewish settlers, as has been the behavior for a few years.
The favored resistance in Sheikh Jarrah was met with excessive Israeli violence, involving armed settlers, Israeli police and occupation forces, resulting in the wounding of no less than 178 Palestinian protesters on 7 Could. Palestinians all through the occupied territories started mobilising in solidarity with their brethren in Al-Quds, main to a different devastating Israeli war on the Gaza Strip on 10 Could. The warfare resulted within the killing of over 250 Palestinians, hundreds extra wounded and mass-scale destruction.
The Israeli warfare was meant to distract from the occasions going down in East Jerusalem. The Israeli designs, nevertheless, fully failed as Palestinians in Ramallah, Nablus, Hebron, Haifa and lots of different Palestinian cities, villages and refugee camps marched in solidarity with Sheikh Jarrah and Gaza, articulating a political discourse which, for the primary time, was devoid of factional references.
To quell the Palestinian riot, Israel dispatched hundreds of troopers and police, together with armed Jewish settlers and militias within the occupied territories and Israel itself. Many Palestinians were killed in ensuing clashes and assaults. The Could occasions, nevertheless, have highlighted, not solely the unity present amongst Palestinians but additionally the deep racism that has bothered all sectors of Israeli society. The notion that Palestinians of historic Palestine have assimilated with the brand new actuality and are not half of a bigger Palestinian physique politic, proved fully false.
Boycotts, Divestments and the ICC
The Palestinian resistance at residence additional mobilised civil society world wide. Rights organisations like Human Rights Watch and Israel’s personal B’tselem concluded that Israel is an apartheid state.
The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) motion acquired many boosts all year long as firms, such because the ice cream large, Ben & Jerry’s, determined to divest from the occupied territories and the game’s multinational company, Nike, has determined to finish its operations in Israel completely, although with out rationalising its resolution on political grounds.
Moreover, Norway’s largest pension fund, KLP, declared on 5 July that it could not put money into companies linked to Israeli settlements. Later within the yr, well-known Irish novelist, Sally Rooney, announced her refusal to have her bestseller ‘Lovely World, The place Are You’ revealed by an Israeli firm.
In the meantime, efforts at holding Israeli warfare criminals accountable on the Worldwide Legal Court docket (ICC) continued, unabated. In March, then ICC Chief Prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, announced the opening of a proper investigation into alleged warfare crimes within the occupied Palestinian territories. Though Bensouda is not on the ICC, the Palestinian case stays lively, with the hope that worldwide justice can lastly prevail.
Regardless of the quite a few difficulties, the spirit of all Palestinians was lifted, as soon as extra, when the Palestinian Olympic delegation entered Tokyo’s Olympic Stadium in July, carrying a Palestinian flag. The small delegation included Palestinians from numerous areas, cementing Palestinian unity in tradition and sports activities as properly.
Resisting By means of Starvation
In the meantime, Palestinian starvation strikers continued their resistance inside Israeli prisons, with prisoners like Kayed Fasfous and Meqdad Al-Qawasmi leading extended starvation strikes of 131 and 113 days, respectively, virtually ensuing of their deaths. In a present of additional defiance, six Palestinian prisoners had escaped the Gilboa jail on 6 September. Although they had been all caught and reportedly tortured following their re-arrest, the information captivated all Palestinians, who felt empowered with what they perceived to be a heroic quest for freedom.
Nevertheless, many Palestinian prisoners additionally suffered by the hands of the PA itself, which continued its apply of illegal detention and torture of dissenting Palestinian activists. The death of Nizar Banat, by the hands of PA safety forces on 24 June, led to mass Palestinian protests the place hundreds of individuals demanded accountability and justice for the PA critic who was overwhelmed to demise.
2021 was a yr of warfare, loss and destruction for Palestinians. But, it was additionally a yr of unity, cultural achievements and hope, as a brand new era is lastly taking centre stage, asserting its identification and its centrality to the way forward for its homeland.
The views expressed on this article belong to the creator and don’t essentially replicate the editorial coverage of Center East Monitor.